Falling in love with swales

Why do I love swales? Let me count the ways:

  • Swales, strategically dispersed on a property will increase water security
  • Swales can make a property drought proof
  • Swales store water underground, a storage that is the lowest in cost, clean, secure, accesible and of nearly infinite capacity.
  • Benefits of a medium sized swale network can radiate to fileds miles around
  • Swales enable effortless integration of aquaculture
  • Trees on swale mounds require little or no irrigation
  • A series of swales planted out with trees, enhance transpiration activity, which in turn increases humidity, decreases temperature and encourages greater rainfall
  • Swale trenches can be used as access paths or as crop areas
  • Swales locations can be triggers to determine other farm facilities to be placed in mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Swales unveil and blend with the natural landscape of a given property with effortless ease.
  • Areas between swales can be developed as ever-hydrated pastures, crop areas or orchards
  • Swales become ready windbreaks for crops like bananas and slender trees planted in their lee
  • As swale mounds discourage trespass, they develop into reserve habitats for small animals, nesting birds and soil fauna, ever enriching the soil.
  • When built with well designed escape sills, swales manage floods without damage
  • Where wildfire risks exist, swales can mitigate them.
  • Swales can be effectively deployed everywhere- from backyards to multiple square mile watersheds. What limits them are our imagination and will

Bill Mollison has toyed with the idea of a political party that promises if it came to power, a Permaculture based revival of Australia as a sustainably productive, drought and fire proof continent. Never mind the odds against its coming to power are formidable- we can at least marvel at the vision in the manifesto Tamara Griffiths put together using Bill’s words. I quote from it:

“In most countries, 80% of rainfall runs off or evaporates. Thus only 12% is available for agriculture or domestic needs. We must legislate for the construction of thousand of miles of swales on farms, as large contour ditches that fill in every heavy rain (>10mm/day). In 3 to 6 hours, such water soaks in, and is immune to evaporation or run-off! This water, over years and centuries, feeds tree roots, springs, and valley streams. Swales enable forests, and forests are both passive condensers of night air, and active cloud generators for rainfall. If we clear the ridges, 40% of orographic rain ceases. If we clear the plains, most condensation and clouds fail to form. Thus, swales precede forests. Forests precede precipitation.”

Haven’t you fallen in love yet?

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Here’s the link to a slideshow on swales at pointReturn: Click

7 thoughts on “Falling in love with swales

  1. Dear DV,

    Don’t know how it may help, but in watershed developments, CCTs need to be done on entire catchment area of watershed to get full effect. So, in your case, is it possible for you to do 1-2 swales on the west side outside of your property? The percolated water will benefit the borewell.

    – Kedar

  2. Dear DV, thanks for such a insight.. I have approached Ringo to check if he can visit my farm and help me in planning.. this is a great help and I badly needed this.

  3. Dear DV
    Wishing you and the team at point return a happy and pleasant new year. On reading, how can one not fall in love with swales? If Only a marginal farmer( if I may use that word)be educated in the virtues of swale, that would be more effective than policy makers groping around committees to implement. Thanx a lot for en lighting. chandrakant

  4. Dear DV,
    It is amazing how you get the strength to do such wonderful things. Obviously it is your love of nature that is making you do all these things. I wish you all the best for the New Year and may the swales give you all the joy that you wish for. Hats off boss

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